The other day I was on my way to my office riding on a rickshaw. While crossing a turn, my puller had a little encounter with another rickshaw puller who was trying to ply ahead.
It was a trivial issue. But within a jiffy, a scuffle ensued, and the two rickshaw pullers set the fur flying through feisty exchanges.
Interestingly, the people who were just milling around also joined the commotion with great alacrity and added fuel to the fire.
Within a difference of only a few seconds, pedestrians and commuters got engaged in an abrupt fight, started ranting disparagingly and threw words at each other, without even knowing how it all started.
This is not the first instance of such unnecessary altercations on the streets. Rather I have seen such incidents several times in the last few days where people were hitting the roof for very silly reasons.
This kind of outburst instantiates a new type of change in people's mentality and is a bellwether for some social aberration.
Such confrontational attitude speaks of the temper and pent-up frustrations brewing inside people and they come from all echelons of the society, especially from the lowest rungs of the social ladder.
These confrontations are reflections of the invisible turbulence in our socio-economic condition. The very fabric of our society is tearing apart due to deteriorating economic and political conditions.
And it is taking a heavy toll on the mental stability of mass people, making them coarse and turning them psychologically restless.
Both economic burdens caused by rising living expenses and political alienation resulting from shrinking democratic practices are leaving knock-on impacts on people's psyche.
In the first place, we are going through a desperate time when people are finding it difficult to make both ends meet owing to sky-rocketing prices of essentials.
People are reeling under the onslaught of escalating living expenses. Despite making a nip here and a tuck there, financial burdens faced by cross-sections of people are stacking up.
An inability to get through the difficulties is influencing their psychology and leaving perennial impacts on their temperament.
On top of it, as they cannot do anything about it and consequently, have to suppress their feelings, it makes them more desperate and the savagery grows inside their psyche.
People are aggrieved by the fact that they don't have any control over their lives anymore as the cost of living is going through the roof, making it difficult to put food on the table.
House rent is going beyond our reach, fares are increasing and the traders are coming up with new shenanigans to fleece us. All these vexing issues are contributing to the mounting cost of living and instilling a feeling of resentment in us.
Moreover, a lack of political participation is also creating frustration among the commoners. The absence of a strong opposition party has further exacerbated the overall situation as there is no one to put pressure on the people in power and ask for accountability.
The scourge caused by these two factors is making people restless and impacting their thought processes.
Eventually, they are growing to be more desperate, getting infuriated by every petty thing and are always on the lookout for swooping down on the comparatively powerless section of people.
Our society is going through a turbulent period which is causing these sudden and wanton outbursts. Such abnormal change is rooted in the growing political alienation and a colonising impact.
As people are now politically powerless and cannot exercise democratic rights in the truest sense, a sense of political alienation has developed among them.
This presages something ominous and history attests to this fact. When people become politically detached, it results in individualism and resentment among commoners.
The history lessons and of lifeworld
Towards the end of the 4th century BC, the Greek city-states were assimilated and a new state called Hellenistic Empire was formed.
During those days of the city-states, people were close to each other and contributed to political decision-making.
But, with the initiation of the Hellenistic empire (which was quite large), the inhabitants got detached from each other and discussions in large assemblies became difficult.
This transition from the city-state to an empire created some kind of inhibition among people. The later years witnessed several wars in the region and consequently, even a powerful ruler like Alexander failed to keep hold of power forever.
As people were exasperated with their situation and their political isolation, Alexander gradually lost the support of the public as well. We are almost in a similar phase when our political alienation is making us impatient.
Another problem is that our lifeworld that consists of our social existence and other social factors is controlled and determined by political and economic factors.
According to Jürgen Habermas, a German philosopher and sociologist, our lifeworld is colonised by political and economic factors, insinuating that our social condition is trapped in the straightjacket of the political and economic situation.
As explained earlier, both of these factors are not faring well, leaving an impact on our lifeworld and affecting our psychology.
To lay bare the truth, the state has utterly failed to take notice of the temper and resentment simmering within people.
To overcome this, political colonisation needs to be stopped so that the economic situation can be improved and people can live peacefully.
Moreover, a congenial political ambience must be created for ensuring the participation of mass people in democratic activities like elections.
Only then, the situation will change and it will be possible to placate people. It is the politicians who need to play a pivotal role in this regard as it's only their willingness that can clear the air and create a congenial atmosphere convenient for social amelioration.
Unless our lifeworld is liberated from the colonisation of political and economic influence, angst-ridden people will keep pouring out their anger in the wrong places, which may even turn into something uncontrollable if not addressed with due diligence.
The author is a philomath who likes to delve deeper into the human psyche to explore the factors that influence it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.